Mr. E. H. Shield
"He was a wel good wrighte, a carpenter" - Chaucer
None of those who have ever presented a completed article fro inspection and, they hope, approval by Mr. Shield, would be surprised if his first action on taking up his new duties as Organizer of Handicraft to the County of Hereford were to ban, or at least severely ration, the issue of putty and plastic wood to the workshops under his supervision. He has no use for anything shoddy or "botched-up", whether in the construction or design of an article, or in personal behaviour. The fine work turned out by the School Craft Guild before the war, when his store contained timber and not cross-grained old air-raid shelter beds, bore witness to this. So does the fine unit-set of scenery and fittings for the stage, all made in the School workshop. There is nothing of the flimsy, amateur makeshift about those flats, arches and doors. They will probably out-last the School!
Though he pretended to curse the outrageous demands of the Dramatic Society for flights of steps, ranges of mountains, practicable windows and "prison gates which will creak when they are opened," he would go to endless trouble to see that those gates really did creak. Behind the scenes, he and his disciplined army of stagehands left no doubt in the minds of mere actors as to who was really responsible for running the play. Woe betide the player - or even producer - who set foot on "his" stage during a change of scheme, before the last brace was secure and flats and furniture "trued-up" dead on their appropriate chalk-lines.
The Society will miss him, and not only for his work as Stage Director. His imperturbable voice, issuing through a dense cloud of rank smoke, in some drily humorous remark, has helped to steady the nerves of many a performer, over-wrought by one of the many minor, but earth-shaking disasters of a show. "Stop nattering!" - and they stopped. Nothing ruffled him, though on occasion he could show a gift of galvanizing speech; a wit sharpened, no doubt, by the Army, in which he served from the outbreak of war, degenerating steadily from the respectable rank of gunner to that of captain.
Of his service in the desperate withdrawal from Greece he says little, except to permit himself a few pungent expressions to describe the German paratrooper whose accurate machine-gun fire made it inopportune for him to collect his beloved Leica from his truck at the Corinth Canal.
With his departure, the School loses yet another of that select few who were its students first, then members of its Staff. It also loses Miss Drysdale, to whom he has been engaged since before Christmas.